Fourth Round, 115th Pick
A year ago, Landry Jones was being mentioned as a possible, if not likely 2013 first-round pick for teams that missed out on the bevy of 2012 franchise quarterback prospects. Like Matt Barkley, Jones' perceived draft stock has taken a hit during his senior season, and a poor Senior Bowl week failed to generate postseason momentum.
Are the draft analysts who are down on Jones being too hard on him?
Jones is very good at crisply and effectively executing plays within an offensive system. His play-fakes are sharp, and he sets up to deliver the ball quickly with the defense still off balance. Jones exhibits the arm strength to out-throw a deep safety's range, and his throws downfield over the middle have good velocity.
With good height, size and athleticism, Jones is an above-average physical NFL quarterback prospect, and he can use that athleticism to keep plays alive and create a lot of space to operate on rollouts. At times, his patience and field vision create big plays when Jones has to improvise. You'll see two or three difficult throws a game that Jones places perfectly on target, and he can throw with both velocity and distance on the run.
Jones doesn't play with much edge, conviction or urgency. Without a clean pocket, many of his passes lack the zip and accuracy to create good run-after-catch opportunities. He operated in an offense that mostly asked him make quick, short throws, and his inconsistent pocket presence indicates that might be his best use in the pros.
Sometimes Jones seems to surrender under pressure instead of attempting to elude the rusher or throw the ball away. Occasionally, Jones will make terrible decisions under marginal pressure that are at a high risk of turning into interceptions.
At 6'4", 225 pounds, Jones has plus size, although his build isn't as sturdy as those numbers suggest it is. His 5.11 40 makes Jones seem like a non-athletic quarterback—and he is not a great threat to hurt a defense with his legs—but Jones' three-cone (7.12) and short shuttle (4.3) would fit in with wide receivers. His 31" vertical and 9'7" broad jump also highlight his overall athleticism and ability to elude pass-rushers with quick, explosive moves.
Jones lost three receivers to suspension last year and still had a very productive season. He does sometimes lose his nerve during games and can have a deflating effect on his offense. Jones is more of an understated leader than a fiery competitor. He is considered a high character player of strong Christian faith.
Jones operated almost exclusively out of the shotgun or pistol formation at Oklahoma. He made simple predetermined throws on many plays (often on rollouts or off of play-action fakes) and rarely went deep into progressions or otherwise threw into small windows.
You won't see frozen ropes or vapor trails when Jones throws, but he puts deceptive velocity on throws over the middle and can put the ball out ahead of a streaking deep receiver, including when Jones is on the move. Jones doesn't drive the ball and will need to put a little more pace on his throws at the next level. Even his short throws will run out of gas and force his receiver to slow up for the reception.
Jones is accurate enough on the plethora of short throws he attempts, but he is not consistently hyper-accurate, which denies his receivers maximum run-after-catch possibilities. Generally, Jones' receivers have to adjust to his passes instead of being led by him. Jones is very good at anticipating routes to the ball on the receiver in stride downfield over the middle, and his deep ball can be perfect at times. Jones doesn't have many errant passes, but accuracy isn't a strength, either.
Jones' setup is somewhat deliberate, but his whip release makes the whole action quick enough to keep the offense in flow. His release point is low despite his height, so he doesn't take great advantage of his gift and gets more balls tipped than he should.
Jones can put a good amount of velocity and distance on the pass with minimal weight transfer, but he doesn't create as much zip as he could with more consistent footwork and greater weight transfer in his release. He does stay on his toes and doesn't let his feet go dead in the pocket, which helps with the quick release.
This is where most analysts will slam Jones, but his performance shows more bright spots than his reputation would indicate. Pressure will often make Jones fade away in his throws or otherwise shy away from the rush, but when he can elude the defender and create space, Jones is a dangerous passer with the field vision to spot receivers downfield on the fly.
On the whole, Jones is not a comfortable pocket passer and does little damage from the pocket if his first read isn't open. Sometimes he will just go in the mental fetal position in the pocket, but when he doesn't, he is athletic enough to get away from the rush.
Jones seems more patient and creative outside of the pocket than he is within it, and he will sometimes see pressure and abandon a play when the pocket still has integrity. Climbing the ladder and other methods of moving within the pocket do not come naturally to Jones.
This is a great area of Jones' game, and if he is successful pro quarterback, mobility will be a big reason why. He is smooth on his rollouts, and Jones also moves instinctively outside of the pocket. He is quick and sudden enough to make a rusher miss when he spots him and keeps his head.
How Does He Attack Defenses?
Jones' ability to defeat defenses is about play-calling and execution more than his ability to test the defense. Jones makes quick, short throws to keep the chains moving, and doesn't do well when he has to go deep into his progressions in the pocket. He can make things happen when the play breaks down, but he is generally not an aggressive-minded quarterback.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Jones looks like a backup quarterback in a Mike/Kyle Shanahan-style offense with a lot of rollouts (old-school Shanahan), and the pistol formation (new-school Shanahan). He could be a semi-successful starter if he plays with more nerve, but will not flourish if he is asked to hang in the pocket and otherwise "solve" a defense on his own.